Not all disabled people are afraid of physician-assisted dying (PAD) and I would not like people to think Raymond Mok (Euthanasia debate reveals deep divisions about the value and meaning of life, Sunday Star-Times, Jan 7) speaks for us all.
I am disabled and I want the right to PAD should I reach a point where I am suffering from a terminal illness that is expected to end my life within six months, or have a grievous and untreatable medical condition.
My impairment, or unique function and experience as I prefer to refer to, has nothing to do with PAD. Any bill passed in Parliament would have safeguards to ensure that I myself could not decide, nor could anyone coerce me, to end my life because I was tired of being disabled.
Attacking David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill, Mok asks: “What does it mean to say that those with serious medical conditions can legally opt out of life with the help of the able-bodied? Does it imply that their lives are less precious, less valuable?”
He then argues that this “smacks of discrimination”. But this is where, logically and legally, his argument, echoed by anti-PAD activist groups, falls flat.
In fact, the opposite is true. Were the EOLC Bill to come into law and disabled people were in some way prevented from utilising it, that would be discrimination.
And, to be blunt, were we to gaze into a dystopian crystal ball at a future where elderly and disabled people were “killed off” for not pulling their societal weight, we won’t need a law to do so. There are plenty of other historical incidences of unethical practices that have been carried out without legal sanction.
As I said in my affidavit in support of Lecretia Seales’ case, we land in dangerous territory when we try to protect one group by denying the rights of another. Both disabled people and those with terminal, incurable, illness deserve the right to choice and autonomy.
I believe so strongly in this that I am a life member of the End-of-Life Choice Society and manage its website and social media.
The media needs to be as balanced in reporting the differing views of disabled people on PAD as it is in reporting the views of others. Raymond Mok does not speak for all disabled people. Nor do I.
But my voice and those of many other disabled people who are not afraid of assisted dying and have trust in a fair, compassionate, goodwilling society, need to be represented in this important, democratic conversation.